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Replace Windows with Linux on an Inexpensive New Laptop Computer

Windows to Linux Laptop ComputerIt doesn’t have to be a new laptop computer, but that’s what I recommend. You never know what you’re going to get with a “refurbished” or “renewed” laptop computer. Heck, you don’t even know what you’re going to get with a brand-new laptop computer unless you’re buying another of something you already own.

When I wrote about the methods of getting started with Linux, I mentioned you can get laptop computers for less than $200. I recently found you can get them for under $100 if you don’t count the tax and shipping expenses that could be involved. If you want to risk refurbished or renewed laptop computers, you can find them for even less.

Use Windows Laptop Computers Only

You may be tempted to use a Chromebook, but don’t. Yes, they’re inexpensive but the hassle of setting up Linux on one isn’t worth the effort. At least, not when you can get a true Windows laptop computer for around the same price.

Don’t be tempted by low prices alone. Do your research. You want a laptop computer with at least four gigabytes of memory. The size of the internal drive isn’t an issue with most Linux distributions. Most, if not all, of them can be installed in the smallest internal drive available. I believe a 32 gigabyte eMMC drive is the smallest, unless you’re dealing with a single board computer where a micro SD card is used.

I recently became aware of the EVOO brand. When I searched for it, I kept coming up with what the acronym usually means: Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I eventually found it at THX and it seems like it’s a Walmart-affiliated brand. Anyway, you can find a lot of them at Walmart.com, at prices under $200 and prices under $100. You can also find them elsewhere, but Walmart seems to carry the most.

Be careful what you buy, regardless of brand name. I mention four gigabytes of memory because some of them can’t be upgraded. You won’t be happy with anything less than four. Six or eight would be better but good luck in finding any at these price points.

When I wrote about computers with Linux already installed, I mentioned I haven’t seen a computer made since 2012 than couldn’t run Linux. I was talking about computers that can run Windows, not something else.

The Steps I’ve Used to Replace Windows Completely

We’re talking about brand-new Windows laptop computers that haven’t been used for anything yet.

  1. Run the following command from the Windows PowerShell command line and save your Windows license key somewhere safe. This is just in case your new laptop computer won’t run Linux at all and you want to reinstall Windows.
    (Get-WmiObject -query 'select * from SoftwareLicensingService').OA3xOriginalProductKey
  2. Download a utility to create a bootable USB flash drive. I recommend Rufus or Universal USB Installer.
  3. Obtain a USB flash drive of at least eight gigabytes in size. You can get multi packs today for the same price one used to cost.
  4. Download your Linux distribution of choice. I recommend starting with the 64-bit Cinnamon Edition of Linux Mint. It’s what I’m using.
  5. Make a USB flash drive bootable with one of the utilities and the Linux distribution ISO file.
  6. Boot your laptop computer into the BIOS screen and disable UEFI and change anything related to “legacy”. Although some Linux distributions will install without doing that, not all of them will.
  7. Boot your computer from the USB flash drive and follow the instructions for a clean installation. Don’t leave any existing partitions in place.
  8. Customize your Linux laptop computer almost any way you want it.

If I’ve left anything out at all, please let me know.

Image Attribution: Clker-Free-Vector-Images at Pixabay

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By RT Cunningham
March 3, 2020
Computers